Four days before he formally launches his political party, Telugu film star and wannabe-politician Chiranjeevi Friday celebrated his 53rd birthday quietly with his family.
After a three-decade-long film career, he proposes to launch Aug 26 his yet unnamed party at a public meeting in the temple town of Tirupati. He announced his entry into politics Sunday, saying he was dedicating his life to serving the people.
Not sure whether he would find time for the family later, the actor preferred to celebrate his birthday at his house in the upmarket Jubilee Hills here. He spent the day with his mother Anjana Devi, wife Surekha and other family members.
In sharp contrast, his supporters and fans celebrated the day with much fanfare.
A large number of them gathered outside his house and at the party office to greet him.
Chiru, as he is popularly known, had appealed to his fans across the state not to reach Hyderabad to greet him and instead take up social work and plant trees in their respective towns and villages.
Responding to his call, fans' associations organised meals for the poor, health check-up camps, blood donation camps and distributed fruits among patients at various hospitals besides planting trees.
The fans also cut huge cakes, took out processions and organised free screening of some films of the actor.
In Visakhapatnam, Chiranjeevi's fans cut a 53-kg cake, burst firecrackers and raised slogans hailing his entry into politics.
The celebrations in Vijayawada triggered tension when fans of popular actor Mahesh Babu took exception to the removal of his cut-out by Chiru's fans. One person was injured in the resulting clash between the two groups.
Mahesh Babu, son of veteran actor and former Congress MP G.S. Krishna, celebrated his birthday earlier this month amid speculations that he would campaign for the ruling Congress party in next year's elections.
Meanwhile, Chiranjeevi's fans have stepped up efforts to mobilise huge crowds for the Aug 26 meeting at Tirupati, where the actor would announce the name of his party and its agenda.
Though his fans were expecting that he would launch the party on his birthday, he preferred to do it on the birth anniversary of Mother Teresa, whom he described as his source of inspiration.
Chiru is already engaged in social service and runs a blood and eye bank here and his fans hope to see him as the next chief minister.
He has a huge fan following, comparable to thespian N.T. Rama Rao, who had taken the state politics by storm by floating Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 1982. NTR had come to power within nine months of launching the party.
Born on Aug 22, 1955 in Mogalturu, a small village in the coastal district of West Godavari in the family of an excise constable, Chiru was christened Konidela Siva Shankara Varaprasad.
After graduating in commerce, he began his film career in 1978 - when he renamed himself Chiranjeevi - and carved out a niche for himself with his image of an action hero. He acted in 147 films and churned several blockbusters including those with social message.
Chiru bagged various awards for his acting, his contribution to Telugu cinema and social service. He was also awarded Padma Bhushan in 2006.
Known to be a sensitive and kind-hearted man, Chiru Thursday admitted a physically challenged person as the first member of his party. "I will be the second member," he said.